Dear Traveler, you have been around and you have seen things. And now you are stumbling upon a small but a bighearted Zagreb. What is the entire buzz about it, you ask yourself? Why should you visit, the question occurs? Let’s try to awaken your curiosity and share a few interesting tidbits about the Croatian capital. Why visit Zagreb?
The story of Zagreb dates back all the way to prehistoric times when there was already life here. Some of the excavation points are found on the mountain Medvednica, the so called ‘’bears mountain’’. For centuries now it does not have bears but the name still remains. This means you can safely hike to a medieval well preserved fortress of Medvegrad and enjoy the aerial views of the city.
If we fast forward a little bit, we had the Roman Empire here. If you just flew in the newly opened and shiny airport, you were in the vicinity of Andautonia. A Roman settlement that dates back to 1st century! Check the old Roman city out.
The proper and formative history of Zagreb is connected with two medieval settlements Kaptol and Gradec. The 11th century clergy part Kaptol and the 13th century secular part Zagreb were fierce enemies for years. In the meantime we also had presence of Mongols and the Ottoman Empire here. A playground for everybody! Kaptol and Gradec decided to bury the hatchet and merge in mid-19th century. The development of modern Zagreb as we know it today starts then.
20th century is probably the most hectic and turbulent period of all time. Zagreb managed to be a part of several different countries in less than 100 years. To sum up: Austrian Empire, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Independent State of Croatia, Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia and Republic of Croatia. Imagine how many quirky stories and interesting tidbits are there? Those carved the city in what it is today.
Last stage of history, the so called ‘’awakening stage’’ is happening as I write and you read. In the last 5 years Zagreb was nominated twice for the best European destination award. The capital won 2 consecutive times the title as the best Christmas destination of Europe. Currently, Zagreb is holding that title. Some of the worldwide influential travel portals proclaimed Zagreb as the most desirable destination to visit in Europe for 2017. The city has a huge increase in tourism and everybody wants to be here!
Located between river Sava on the south and mountain Medvednica on the north, Zagreb found his tranquil position. The river was never utilized and it mostly created chaos through history with frequent flooding. On the flip side, the mountain hosts a world skiing cup every January and it brings a lot of joy to the locals. Hiking trails are well organized, and you can become one with nature there.
In the heart of the city we have a series of 7 parks and the botanical gardens aligned in a shape of a letter U. This is the green horse shoe of Zagreb. We call it the lungs of the capital, since it is pretty forested. You can cover it in an hour walk and forget about the urban hectic of the city. Get lost in the Park Forest Tuskanac. A place where they burned women accused for witchcraft in 18th century, now you have one of the most beautiful strolls of the city. It is totally safe to walk these days, even for the women.
Zagreb has lakes as well, if you were wondering. Jarun, the bigger one, is a popular recreational resort for the locals. We call it Zagreb Sea because it also provides refreshment during warm summer months. You can go for a swim there. In addition, every year it hosts one of the best music festivals in Europe – the In music festival. The smaller lake, Bundek is perfect for a quaint walk to adjust your train of thoughts or catch some of the events that are happening there, such as the Flora art.
Architecture and Museums
Zagreb’s vibrant and colorful history left its mark on the city. And a good mark I have to say! While strolling the streets of the city you will see prime examples of the historicistic style. Art Nouveau style left its influence here as well. In the Green horse shoe you can savor the beauty of the 19th century palaces and the facades. Check out the tallest building in Croatia, which dates back to 11th century – Zagreb cathedral. On the outskirts of town, enjoy mesmerizing beauty of the cemetery Mirogoj. Yes, I know it sounds strange and eerie when somebody recommends a cemetery, but its beauty is indescribable by words.
An interesting article that I never fact checked states that Zagreb has the most museums per square kilometer in the world! It might be true. Your eyes will immediately catch the Museum of Broken relationships. Rest assured, because we also have the Museum of Torture, Museum of Illusions, Mushroom Museum and Museum of Psychiatry. Pick a topic you fancy, you will probably stumble upon a museum that depicted it.
Philosophy of lounging
You will rarely find a town like Zagreb where people like to linger so much. Everything revolves about coffee. It is part of our tradition, culture and bloodstream. Working day and working hours all of our cafes will be packed with people. With first rays of sunshine all of Zagreb squares become big lounges and living rooms at your disposal. So jump on board and take this ride of basically doing nothing while commenting people that catch your eye. Feel like a local and have a cup of coffee that will last for hours.
People of Zagreb are accustomed to good food as well. In addition to having a bar street (500 meters of sidewalk cafes and bars) we also have a couple of restaurant streets. There, you can eat whatever your heart and tummy desire. To feast on the local cuisine go for Strukle or try anything that has meat and potatoes on the side. Also, be aware that Zagreb has some amazing fish restaurants. Most of the best fresh fish that is caught on the Adriatic in the morning is shipped to Zagreb. All for you!
New star on the European sky!
There are captivating cities in the world, but people have been traveling to them for the last 100 years. People want something of the beaten path, yet to be discovered! I proudly present Zagreb – the new star on the European sky! The city does not have mass tourism, and in comparison with other capitals in the world it is reasonably priced. It’s a safe and clean city, with friendly and chatty locals that will help you always. You will feel welcomed and safe here. And that is the biggest asset to Zagreb touristy offer, the people. You can’t manufacture that. Start a chat with a random stranger and embark on this adventure of visiting Zagreb. You will create a lasting memory! What are you waiting for? Zagreb is giving you a shout out, my dear traveler!
Author: Filip Donadic
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